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LOCAL News :: Police State

Struggle to shut down California prison SHU advances

Since January, our coalition has taken to the streets to educate people about the corrupt prison system in CalifAztlan.
An instrument of torture being used in them is known as Security Housing Units.
June -- The United Front to Abolish Security Housing Units took to the streets again, the fourth month in a row that we have been out in
different cities across California to protest this country's torture isolation chambers in our brutal domestic prison system. These isolation
chambers are known in California as Security Housing Units, and almost 3,000 people are being held in them in California alone. Organizations
participating in the United Front hold protests the first Saturday of every month, in cities across the state including San Francisco, San
Jose, Santa Cruz, Oakland, Los Angeles, Watsonville and the San Fernando Valley.

In California, and across the country, Security Housing Units principally target oppressed nations. In 1998 the California Department of
Corrections (CDC) reported that 34% of the population in all CDC institutions was Latino, and 31% was Black. The populations of the SHUs is even more disproportionate. 82% of people in SHUs were nonwhite, & 52% of those in SHUs were Latino. This compares to a California population that was 32%
Latino and 7% Black in 1998. Although California only reports the category of "Latino" we know that in California this is mostly Mexican people locked up in the Security Housing Units. This is a special tool of social control for Mexican people who have come to the United $tates, to what is
really land stolen from Mexico.

Like other control unit prisons across the country, the SHU are prisons within a prison. They are solitary confinement cells where prisoners
are locked up 23 hours a day for years at a time. The one hour a day these prisoner sometimes get outside of their cell is spent alone in an
exercise pen not much larger than their cell, with no direct sunlight. This long term isolation causes serious mental and physical health problems for many prisoners. And these torture cells are used to target politically active prisoners using a system of classification that makes it impossible for prisoners to appeal their assignment.

The United Front to Shut Down the SHU includes wide range of political organizations and individuals such as the Barrio Defense Committee
(BDC), the African People's Socialist Party (APSP), African People's Solidarity Committee (APSC), the Maoist Internationalist Movement (MIM), Justice for Palestinians, California Prison Focus, the Revolutionary Anti-Imperialist League (RAIL), Proyecto Common Touch and RASCALS. We are working to expand participation from likeminded organizations across the state.

In June the United Front pushed forward the campaign with outreach at the June 5 anti-war protests in San Francisco and Los Angeles. In San
Francisco we had four locations where people could get information about the SHU and sign petitions. Hundreds of petition signatures were collected. Overall, demonstrators were very receptive to our campaign to shut down the SHU in California, as well as all control units across the country. Many told us that they had previous knowledge of the SHU or had recently heard about it through various news outlets. Even more drew parallels between the prison abuses abroad, in places such as Iraq and
Guantanamo, and were not surprised to learn that many soldiers received their training in humyn rights abuse from Amerikan prisons.

On June 12 the United Front held a state-wide organizing meeting. We noted a number of successes over the past month, both in increased outreach
to new organizations and individuals sympathetic to this battle, and in gaining the attention of more people in the state of California. Even
what appear to be unrelated protests, like the anti-Biotech demonstrations in San Francisco, have begun to include the issue of shutting down the SHU in their protests. We see this as a victory for our work to raise general consciousness about the need to shut down these torture chambers.

Organizers agree to plan events for July and August drawing connections between the torture of prisoners in Iraq and torture of prisoners in
California's Security Housing Units. There will be a series of events in cities across the state. Look for details in the near future. We would
welcome the opportunity to bring these events to new cities or venues and are looking for people to help make this happen.

The United Front is also taking on a bigger project, organizing a tribunal to accuse the California Department of Corrections of committing crimes of brutality, torture and human rights violations, scheduled for October of this year. The tribunal will include testimony from prisoners, former prisoners, and others affected by the criminal injustice system, as well as expert testimony. We are looking for input from people who could serve as witnesses, and for help in organizing this important event.

We need more activists to help us expand the monthly protests and educational events to other cities across the state of California. At the
demonstrations we set up a literature table and use posters and banners to get people's attention, attaching them to the table and other structures.
And in some cities we are setting up mock SHU structures to illustrate to people the small cell size and sensor deprivation that is part of life
in the SHU. It only takes one or two people to get a protest going in a new city, and we can provide people with all the needed materials.

Contact us if you want to get involved in this important campaign against these torture units as a part of the larger battle against the Criminal
Injustice System as a whole. (For more details on control units in general and the Security Housing Units in California's prisons visit

Protests will be held Saturday July 3rd at the following locations:

Santa Cruz: In front of the Boardwalk by the Beach Flats.
Contact: rufus4you (at) (408) 471-9098

Los Angeles: Harambee Certified Farmers' Market, 5730 Crenshaw Blvd.
Crenshaw and Slauson
Noon - 2pm
Contact: mim136 (at)

Los Angeles: Twin Tower County Jail, Buchete and Caesar Chavez
Noon - 2pm
Contact: lizm9698 (at) (818) 848-0402

San Francisco: Powell & Market
We need help to make this happen this month!
Contact: mim124 (at) (415) 267-4879

San Jose: SHU protest will be on July 5 from 9:00am to 12:00 noon at the Plata Arroyo Park, on McKee and King Rd in East San Jose
Contact: barriodefens (at) (408) 885-9785

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Re: Struggle to shut down California prison SHU advances

" to what is
really land stolen from Mexico."

Yeah, and they stole it from Native Americans...


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